SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that Ryan Joel Shilling, 27, of Shreveport, was sentenced today for Distribution of Child Pornography. United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. sentenced Shilling to spend 168 months (14 years) in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release. Shilling was also ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.
According to information presented in court, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations received information in July 2019 from an unnamed source that an individual sent him a message using Facebook Messenger offering to sell pictures of a nude girl and sent what appeared to be a selfie image of a nude girl. Law enforcement officers began their investigation into the allegations and learned that Ryan Joel Shilling was the individual who sent the message and sexually explicit image.
Shilling had been arrested by Shreveport Police Department officers on an unrelated matter in July 2019. Officers obtained a state search warrant for the defendant’s cell phone. During their investigation, officers found text messages between Shilling and a girl, who was later determined to be a minor, asking her to take sexually explicit images and send them to him. Shilling offered to pay her for them via CashApp. Federal and local law enforcement officers worked together and confirmed that the image Shilling had sent to the unnamed source through Facebook Messenger was in fact the image of the minor girl he was sending text messages. Shilling pled guilty to the charge in United States District Court on December 12, 2019.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations and the Shreveport Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell prosecuted the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood combines federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) also encourage the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at (866) 347-2423. Investigators are available at all hours to answer hotline calls. Tips or other information can also be submitted to ICE online by visiting their website at www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp or through the Operation Predator smartphone application www.ice.gov/predator/smartphone-app. Tips may be submitted anonymously.
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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.